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I Couldn't Stay Awake One Moment Longer

from My Life's Work by Ben Seretan

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Sitting down to write this part this week - what are we calling these, essays? - and finding myself very desperately wanting to make something meaningful, to jab a finger in the eye of every painful aspect of my current personality until one immaculate tear emerges that I can present here, glimmering. Scrambling to find a novel way to describe things unresolved, things currently obsessed over, a thick fog of loneliness, constant blind horniness, the dawn of uselessness, the slow crest of certain realizations (I turn 30 next month, I’m not special and nobody is special, etc.). Or else swinging the opposite way entirely, rifling through my memories like milk crates full of LPs, determining what anecdote that is both true to my experience and incredible enough to share here in a way that will make me seem fun and free (for whatever reason, while writing that sentence, I was reminded of swimming on a black sand beach late at night in Santa Barbara in 2009 - I think the same night we went to a party where there was a room full of mattresses and dozens of poppers, I stayed in the living room, later we ate snickerdoodles with the women who were letting us crash, one had a broken arm in a sling, she asked me to tuck her in and I didn’t pick up the vibe at all. Not good enough.). I love to memorialize everything - I’m cheesy as fuck at the end of the day - and I also love to write these. I often have fun, but I can’t help but notice the little dip I feel after these go out if not enough people engage with the material in a visible-to-me, meaningful way. I need the fix.
Which all makes me wonder what I’m really after - makes me question my motivations entirely. I know much of what I do both here and in life in general is motivated by a constant hunger for validation and intimacy, but I’m neither completely honest nor completely forthcoming in these spaces, which I feel undermines the actual prospect of feeling intimate or validated. Someone I was talking to recently told me they valued realness and authenticity above all else, that they hated lies of any size and people who over perform socially, that they can always see through an act - maybe it’s no surprise that nervous beads of sweat appeared on my forehead during this portion of the convo. I consider the unimagined consequences of writing anything too controversial here, as if writing the wrong thing could terribly alter the course of my life. Which I suppose indicates a belief that I could write the perfect thing that fixes my life the way I want it forever. An incantation. The perfect melody, the perfect little essay. And maybe that’s what it’s all about, then - a valiant but obviously futile attempt to keep hacking away at shit, to keep writing, to keep singing, to keep pushing against the foot of a mountain in the hopes that it will topple.
Ah, I know just the thing to write about:
When I was about 13 years old my mom gave me a gold ring with a tiger’s eye in it. The ring belonged to her father who died before I was born. It was a significant act for her to give me that beautiful ring, the chocolatey gem catching the light. I wore it proudly despite the hot glares I imagined myself getting from my peers - 13 is the age of imagined hot glares. I was playing bass in the youth group worship band at church in those days and for whatever reason I felt the need to take off the ring before we played. I left it behind and realized too late - I ran back up to the youth group but it was gone. I still feel that sharp stab of disappointment to this day. Sometimes I imagine finding it somehow, stuffed in a jacket pocket in a closet under the stairs. Sometimes I imagine that this is where things took a wrong turn for me. Sometimes I imagine its weight on my finger.

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from My Life's Work, released August 30, 2018

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Ben Seretan Troy, New York

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